Content Strategy Tip: Publish the imperfect page

Posted on February 23, 2021

Caroline Blaker

Content Strategy Tip: Publish the imperfect page Image

Finishing a page is part of the process. Don't hold it up. Image: unDraw

Here's the scenario: You have a lifetime of expertise behind a particular keyphrase that your website, which is the hub of this expertise, does not rank for in any way.

Together, we decide to publish a definition page for this keyphrase. Not only can you say it better than anyone else, your voice may be more authoritative on its definition than any of your competition. In short, your page deserves to define this keyword for the greater good of the internet.

The page is drafted and goes through four rounds of editing. It's nearly perfect!

Then, this happens:

  • It needs a final walkthrough by three different people with disparate schedules.
  • Some of your people are sick and can't give the approval.
  • This is someone's vacation and we are not going to bother them.

Should you:

A) Wait for everyone's ducks to line up while this 99% perfect content languishes offline?

B) Publish the content, and add the final 1% of edits, additions and changes nine or 10 days later?

Imperfect pages still build SEO credibility

Our answer is 'B.' While we stan a final check; if it has to wait, you should publish anyway. Here's why:

Pages never rank on first crawl

Get your mostly-perfect page online and start the process. By the time the page ranks the way we expect, we will be long past the nine or 10 days that the final check will take.

It'll get crawled, then crawled again

Your 1% of edits will reflect your careful editing and calculate out in a search bot differential as fine and careful editing, which is one of those intangibles that Google may evaluate for highly-ranked pages. It's a free score boost! In fact, shouldn't we do this with every page? If you are careful with content strategy, you likely dive into your website's text and perform small ongoing updates. If this page needs one sooner over later, who cares?

You want to do your actual final look on the published website

Without fail, you'll find things to fix; maybe even oddly located text bits or widows that will be impossible to observe in your writing sandbox. Looking at a piece of content published in your template will prove the concept of your content completely, and with that may come revelations about its message. So what? The point is, this is the final check; and it comes after potentially sending it to 5 stakeholders for "final approval".

But won't I look unprofessional?

If it's truly a 1% change, no human will be able to detect it unless they have an unreasonably strong memory.

So; by our calculations, no. If you've already dotted your i's and crossed your t's three times and gone round and round to develop the page, your content should have solid grammar (we hope) and already covers what you want it to. That is pretty much enough everything you need to start the journey of ranking for your content.

No final check should be responsible for catching major errors in writing or last-minute shifting opinions that would overwhelm the entire effort. Thus, most of your effort is already there and given the time it takes to rank, you have a great candidate already. Just send it up!

What if my final 1% of edits are more like a final 5%? 10%?

This recommendation can be stretched to accommodate changing up to 5% of the page's content, but with keep in mind that with every edit, you remove varying degrees of confidence in whether or not it will be beneficial to publish now or wait. For instance, if you are waiting on exact quotations from experts or are risking publishing opinions that you may ultimately alter or omit pending additional investigation, clear these hurdles before you publish. If your piece is missing whole paragraphs, grammar checks, quotes that people have yet to get to you, then wait until the content is in its final form before publishing.

A momentous occasion

So go ahead, hit Publish. Don't wait for 5 concurring opinions to do it. Don't be afraid of finding small errors on the website. Be the first to look at it and make quick adjustments to whatever you need. Your SEO will thank you!

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